Surviving a theater of World Cup frenzy
There’s a scene in “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts goes into a high class fashion store. She’s dressed like a prostitute in an upscale part of Los Angeles. She has the money but since she doesn’t look like everyone else, they refuse to help her. Sometimes, that’s how it feels here in Xalapa.
I’ll go into stores or talk to taxi drivers or people in the street and speak Spanish and try to blend in, but people still treat me different and, many times, are very rude. When I’ve traveled in Mexico before I was always accompanied by Mexican friends, but when I’m with foreign students, or by myself, many times I’m treated with disrespect and, for lack of a better word, ignorance. However, the people who know me personally are very nice here in Xalapa, so in no way do I mean to categorize all Mexicans, or Jalapenos (as the city people are called here), in one group.
This past week has been very busy. Last weekend we went on a trip with the school to Xico and Coatepec; two of the neighboring towns. In Xico, we walked to some beautiful waterfalls where, to throw out a cultural reference, Arnold Schwarzenegger actually starred in several films, including “Collateral Damage.” After getting extremely lost on the buses, we finally arrived to a small restaurant in Coatepec where we had a delicious dinner. Last weekend, we also went with the school to the State Theater to see the Orchestra. The entire show was even dedicated to our school of foreign students in Xalapa!
During the past week, we have gone several times to the State Theater. We went this past Friday (June 25) to see a Salsa show, compromised of members of the University Veracruzana, which was very good and upbeat. One night this week, we also decided to check out a Extreme Contemporary Modern Dance Show which, we all assumed, was probably Hip-hop. We could have never been more wrong. The curtain opened to reveal plastic hands crawling up through the stage floor, two flickering lights, and a woman dressed in black. After an hour and a half of what could only be described as techno-electronic music meets a chalkboard, the woman had only moved a few feet, her hands occasionally moving slowly from her sides, lights flickering unmethodically by her feet. The finale: she collapses into her skirt. The morale of the story; thank God for free tickets.
Today (June 27) was also quite a busy day. I went with a Mexican friend to the Garden of Sculptures this morning, which was a nice change of pace from the city of Xalapa. On a side note, it’s the rainy season here so most days the smell of the streets transport me to my memories of a sardine-packed China town in New York after a rainy, humid, hot day. However, the garden is a short taxi drive away from the town, and it was very peaceful. It features various pieces of artwork from Mexicans sculptures, a hedge maze, and a course full of tires and a rope swing. I’m sure we could have stayed there all day creating interpretations and stories for every piece of artwork, and trying to picture where the big rock with a crack down the side, titled “Origin of Life,” would look better on our patio or living room floor.
Upon coming back from the garden, I could feel the tension in the city. Not only are elections coming up on July 4, but Mexico played Argentina in the World Cup today! In Parque Juarez and in the Centro huge screens were erected, so everyone could watch the soccer game. We walked to the supermarket to buy some lunch, and the store was completely paralyzed, all eyes glued to the screen. Now, after living 10 months in Argentina, I personally believed Mexico did not stand a chance, but I politely donned my Mexico soccer jersey and secretly hoped Argentina would win. The game ended 3-1 Argentina, and Mexico is now out of the competition for the World Cup.
Among all the fun, and of course homework, we also made time to get extremely sick again - sometimes it’s not so great to be a multi-tasker. Because of the food and the changing weather (I go from long jeans and a sweatshirt to a dress or a tank-top every other day), most of us foreign students have been sick at least once. However, we are now feeling better and hope to stay that way for the rest of the trip ... we’ll see.
This upcoming week should be very busy. I have several tests, and we’re starting Salsa lessons at school. Also, this week-end is elections, so we’ve been warned to stay inside from July 3 to 4. Supposedly this year has been less dangerous than others, but it’s just better to not get involved. A thief tried to pick-pocket Alex yesterday in front of a cop, but Alex grabbed and twisted his hand so he walked the other way. The streets are OK here as long as you stay alert.
To sum it all up, things have been good overall, and it’s been a whole week that we haven’t found another cockroach in our apartment; definitely a plus. Now I better go study more for my tests, or I’ll be getting e-mails from professors telling me to get back to Bloomsburg!